Chapter 1: 4,23,24
1:4"Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let faith have her perfect
work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
This text focuses on James, the brother of Jesus, as he explains to the church that works, which
evidence our faith, have several dimensions, one of which is patience.
James' general message is that professed faith in God should equate to action. It is exemplified
best by his statement in James 5:20 that "faith without works is dead." The general idea is that
those who have faith will show it in their works. In this passage, James helps us to categorized
and classify just what he means by "works" as the idea of patience is explained.
James seems to say that faith is a matter of strong belief that can be professed with the lips.
Patience is not a matter of belief it is a product of belief plus trial. James' formula seems to be:
F+T=P or Faith Plus Trial equals Patience. James says that trials should be welcomed by every
Christian because they are an opportunity to develop patience. Listen at verse 2 "My brethren,
count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations." Divers Temptations is simply an old
fashioned way of saying "diverse kinds of troubles." We should count it a joy when we are
exposed to the different kinds of troubles that life brings. Why? Because "the trying of your
faith, worketh patience."
To some, James' assertion that we should rejoice when trouble comes is troubling. They don't
understand why anyone would want to rejoice when trouble comes. They see life as the world
sees it. The world rejoices when trouble leaves. The Christian rejoices when trouble comes! That
is not to say that Christians go and seek trouble. James does not suggest that we spend our days
looking for trouble so we can prove how much faith we have. A careful reading of verse two
says when we "fall into divers temptations" meaning when trouble finds us. When trouble finds
us we approach it with an attitude that it is another opportunity to let our faith work and for
Christ to work through us to achieve another victory.
The key element of James formula is assurance. He equates patience with the quiet assurance
that when faith is tested in the life of a person committed to life according to the will of God,
victory is inevitable. "All things work to the good of them that love the Lord, according to his
purposes in Christ Jesus."
James says every Christian should approach life's troubles with an air of confidence that helps
him to say "I can't lose, with the stuff I use." That stuff is my faith and trust in Almighty God.
23-24: "For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his
natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth
what manner of man he was.
This text focuses on the James, the brother of Jesus, as he emphasizes to the Church, the
importance of being doers of the word. Throughout his epistle James underscores the importance
of going beyond simply verbalizing faith, but to acting upon it. His themes are repetitious. Faith
Without Works is dead , Faith Leadeth to Patience ,and Effectual Faith in Prayer. They all say
one truth: Those who have faith in God should act upon it rather than simply talk about it.
In this text, James encourages the church to peer into the perfect law of liberty, as if it were a
mirror, and to compare itself to the perfect truths of God. In places where it finds deficiencies
the church should take corrective action. It should, according to James, never leave without
taking steps toward improvement. The Formula seems to be: What I Am, Plus An Active Faith,
equals what I ought to be (A+F=O).
The word translated glass is from the Greek word Esoptron. In the King James Version
Esoptron has been translated glass. Most mirrors in biblical times were metallic and not made
of glass. Such mirrors did not give true reflections because their surfaces gave reflections that
were sometimes out of proportion to reality. A true mirror had to have certain properties to be
the best possible. It had to have 1)Sufficient smoothness and regularity, and; 2)Ability to reflect
light uniformly producing images of things that stand in front of it. Esoptron interpreted as
Glass narrows down the kind of mirrors that were available to the one that is most likely to give
a true reflection.
The word of God is compared to a true mirror which meets both tests of a true mirror: it is
consistent and regular, and has the ability to reflect upon the life before it a true image. James
notes that those who stand before the perfect law of God can expect to see a true reflection of
themselves as they compare to his expectations.
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